Nexus India inspires youth to make impact in their communities
Thu, 08/18/2022 – 14:38
Nazarene youth in India didn’t let COVID-19 stop them from training as church leaders. They merely found ways to reach even more youth, who are so excited about what they’re learning—they’re initiating their own peer groups for spiritual growth.
The NEXUS youth training course was first piloted on the Church of the Nazarene’s Spain District in 2016. After its positive reception, it was introduced to the India Field in 2017, where the course has been offered each year since. In 2019, four districts in India trained about 80 youth leaders.
The following year, when the COVID-19 pandemic started spreading in India, lockdowns and other measures to prevent the virus’s transmission also prevented the youth from gathering for the Nexus training as usual.
As the youth assessed how to move forward, they took India’s resources into account. Most youth own smartphones and access to internet is cheap, making it possible to participate in the training online. So India’s Nazarene youth leaders decided to deliver the training online in 10 sessions of two hours each at the district level.
“As we announced these opportunities across the different districts, there was a great response from all age group individuals, pastors, youth, and youth leaders,” said Vijay Bhalerao, NYI discipleship coordinator for India. “When we began the training with the first district, all the facilitators were anxious about the effectiveness of the training in the online setup, but the interactions and participation from the participants felt amazing.”
The training went so well that the youth were eager to continue meeting online every two weeks for prayer, devotions, and fellowship to share how they had applied what they had learned to minister in their own communities during the pandemic.
For example, one of the participants in the North East India District started a small restaurant in front of her house to feed people who didn’t have enough to eat while local restaurants were closed due to lockdowns.
Another participant started offering her nursing skills to the ladies in her village during pregnancy and emergencies.
Two young men from the North West India District accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior after attending the Nexus training.
“I really want to praise God for His faithfulness in our lives and greatly moving across the Eurasia Region in spite of the difficult pandemic situation over the last three years,” Bhalerao said. “These online cohorts helped all the participants to continue their walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Also, by serving others, they are helping [them] to become disciples of Jesus.”
From 2020 to 2021, more than 360 Nazarene youth in India, across seven districts, went through the Nexus training, with about 280 continuing with their online cohorts every two weeks, even when lockdowns ended and life in their communities had mostly returned to normal.
“These online cohorts are a great mark of discipleship to nurture the youth leaders and go a long way in developing them to become Christlike,” said Diego Lopez, Eurasia Region NYI leader. “It’s our vision to develop more than 650 youth leaders across the country in the next two years.”